A thought on novelty

Alfredo Card. Ottaviani’s episcopal motto was “Semper idem”: Always the same. Ottaviani had the right idea. There’s a quote from his successor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Card. Ratzinger, that I find difficult to understand: “Today, Christianity is seen as an old tradition, weighed down by old Commandments, something we already know which tells us nothing new; a strong institution, one of the great institutions that weigh on our shoulders.” I fail to see the sting in that line; of course the Church has nothing new to say. That’s one of the things that attracted me to Catholicism in the first place, that signaled to me that it was something that merited serious consideration, in such sharp contrast with those groups falling over themselves to be ephemeral, which is a synonym for “relevant.” A Christianity that claimed to tell us something “new” would be a sham; with public revelation having closed centuries ago with the death of the last apostle, the only possible source of new information is the human mind. If one wants something new, go listen to the Medjugorje people! They’ll give you three new Marian messages a week, and an offer to sell you a bridge in NYC, perhaps. But the true Church, the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church has nothing new to say and never will say anything new or different. And if she did, that would be concerning; Bl. John Henry Card. Newman: “[I]t is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift.”